The 2015 Young Heroes were announced March 6, 2015!
Despite her struggles with cerebral palsy, Melanie Bailiff has excelled both in academics and in sports. Melanie remained on the honor roll throughout middle school and has a 4.0 average during her first semester of high school. She is on her school’s soccer team, school and community swim teams, is a Louisiana GUMBO (Games Uniting Mind and Body) gold and silver medalist, and is an assistant coach for a local Little League t-ball team. Melanie is active in her school’s choral program and its Starbase 2.0 STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) club. In addition, she has been a middle school mentor, Vacation Bible School teacher, and motivational speaker.
Paul Beaman was born with numerous birth defects including a cleft lip and pallet, and an inability to grow as fast as a normal child. Paul had many coordination and developmental delays. Despite daily growth hormone injections and undergoing at least 25 procedures, Paul has always had a special ability to comfort and inspire others. Paul’s small stature and inability to speak well did not keep him from earning the rank of Eagle in the Boy Scouts. He also took on the task of working with new Cub Scouts crossing over to Boy Scout. Paul has worked with his high school football team as a trainer and was recently asked to take on the role of trainer for the school baseball team.
Lucia Boyd developed a project called Gluten-Freedom that helps low income families with Celiac Disease or other health conditions purchase gluten-free foods. Lucia was diagnosed with Celiac Disease four years ago and educates the public about the disease and the importance of a gluten-free diet. Lucia is a straight A student, is active in student government and Key Club, and is a member of her school’s cross-country and golf teams. She plays violin, dances, sings, and is involved in community theater productions. Lucia is also an author, writing a children’s book titled “The Best Lunch Ever” to help kids understand Celiac Disease.
Olivia Castelluccio was diagnosed with leukemia when she was four years old. Throughout her treatments at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, she exhibited strength and bravery beyond her years. Now cancer-free, Olivia wants to become a doctor and work at St. Jude to help save the lives of other children. Olivia is an honor roll student, Student Council Representative, and Beta Club Chaplain. She is active in Girl Scouts, choir, and plays softball, basketball and volleyball. Olivia has helped with many fundraisers for St. Jude and volunteers at events for cancer Services. Her family started Team O in her honor in 2008. Team O raises money for St. Jude - over $235,000 over the years. She has also inspired her classmates to help with bake sales, lemonade stands, and donations to St. Jude in lieu of presents at birthday parties.
Angel Guidry was born to a drug-addicted mother, who had no permanent home, moving from place to place with her child. Angel had very little food and no medical care, and began having seizures that were caused by her environment. Despite her unstable home life, she maintained good grades. Once she was removed from her mother’s custody and adopted, she jumped three grade levels in a year and now has a 3.7 grade point average. Angel is a cheerleader and is active in Future Business Leaders of America, French Club, Beta Club, and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America. She was also selected to go to Louisiana Girls State in Natchitoches. Angel is a Junior Firefighter and plans to pursue a career as a physician’s assistant.
Hannah Jolivette lost four family members the year she turned 11. That same year, her older sister, who she was extremely close to, was diagnosed with cancer and passed away two years later. Hannah was devoted to her sister, staying with her whenever possible and doing all she could for her. Around the time of her sister’s death, Hannah began playing the violin and now plays at church, nursing homes, and the veterans’ home. She and her mother made over 600 tie blankets that they gave to her sister’s doctors and nurses – anyone who cared for her sister, plus family members, and even strangers going through hard times. They also made over 100 hats for the homeless. Hannah also collects blankets, clothing and more for the homeless and the women’s shelter. She also brings cakes and other treats to various police agencies and fire stations to say thank you for all they do. She is currently making a movie to encourage children to go to the library and read.
Sean Noel was diagnosed with Hemophilia A at the age of two, but instead of letting this bleeding disorder interrupt his life, he uses his disease to inspire others. He has a non-profit agency called “Sean’s Factor” that has raised over $4200 for the Louisiana Hemophilia Foundation. Each year, he is invited to speak about Hemophilia to high school students planning on medical careers. Sean has become a veterans’ advocate and was recently named “Outstanding Volunteer of the Year” by his local Veterans of Foreign War chapter. He implemented the “St. Tammany Remembers” website that lists local veterans who are retired, actively serving, or deceased. The program has expanded to include sending care packages to the troops. Sean also arranges for honor guards when a deceased soldier arrives home. Sean and his sister began a program called “Warm Hearts” that has collected and distributed more than 10,000 cold weather items in a five-parish region in the last eight years. He has developed an anti-bullying campaign and has been a featured speaker at local schools, youth groups, and more.
Jacob Waters was born with a deformity to his lower left leg due to Jackson Weiss Syndrome, an extremely rare disease. He underwent numerous surgeries to try to save his foot. When he was 9, Jacob was kicked in the abdomen by a horse, damaging his spleen and left kidney. Because of the extensive damage to his kidney and the surrounding arteries, he must contend with the effects of high blood pressure. At the age of 10, Jacob made the decision to have his leg amputated below the knee and now has a prosthetic. He does not consider himself disabled, but has used his strengths to become a gifted athlete. Jacob has taken the competitive cycling circuit by storm. Last year, he was invited to attend the U.S. Paralympic Emerging Talent Cycling Camp, and would like to compete in the 2020 Paralympics and then the regular Olympics in 2024. In April, Jacob will have a fundraiser with GUMBO to raise money to help purchase special equipment disable youth need to be active and participate in cycling. Jacob has volunteered with Red Cross, Office of Emergency Preparedness, Poverty Point Heritage Site, and more. He is also a Boy Scout and hopes to complete his Eagle Scout project in the next couple of years.